MiGen, Michigan’s LGBTQ+ elders’ network, is looking to expand upon the work they previously did as SAGE Metro Detroit. MiGen provides services, advocacy, fun and opportunities to connect for LGBTQ+ folks ages 45 and over. To help with that goal are Latia Craig and Carl Crockett, two recently hired and dedicated individuals who serve as community navigators for the agency. They are both passionate about their work. They are both concerned about the clients they serve. And they both recently sat down to talk to Pride Source about their jobs and their joys.Hello to you both. Let’s start, obviously, with the work that you’re doing. What does it mean to be a community navigator?
Latia Craig: I love it. I love to be involved with the community and help those individuals who don’t have the right resources. A lot of our members have been let down by other agencies or don’t know where to go. So, I take pleasure in being the voice for that person and helping them get the assistance they need.
Carl Crockett: To me, being a community navigator is to be a voice for the voiceless. It means to advocate for those seniors in the community who are in need of help.What are your backgrounds?
LC: I studied at Wayne State and started out in medical nursing. I did that for about nine years in an ICU unit. Then I switched over to the insurance side of the business. The past four years, I’ve been doing community navigator work.
CC: I did undergrad at Morehouse, then graduate studies at University of Detroit-Mercy, where I got my law degree as well. I didn’t pass the bar yet. It’s on my bucket list. Going to school down south to an HBCU, it changed my life. I think that’s why I’m reaching out to this community, the LGBTQ+ community. These people understand injustice and discrimination. That opened my eyes to helping.Latia, what are some of the tasks you perform regularly?
LC: I help individuals by being an advocate for them, finding resources and everyday life skills they aren’t able to do on their own. If an individual needs help with housing, I’d help with that. Or an individual who doesn’t have any food, I’d sign them up for food or transportation to a doctor’s appointment.What’s the best thing about the work you do?
LC: Working directly one-on-one with the consumers, clients or just individuals in the community. I love the ability to be out there directly working with them. Not just in the office. Having the pleasure of coming into their home. That’s when you get a better feel for what they’re lacking.
CC: The best part about the work that I do is being an ally for those who are defenseless. Helping them during their time of need. That matters. I have over two decades of experience in the non-profit sector. Through networking and connections and an in-depth knowledge of resources in Wayne County and other areas I can assist.Any difficult cases that stand out?
LC: We had one client who broke her wrist. So she wasn’t able to do her gardening. She was thinking that companies were too expensive. We were able to find a company that came out and did the work for her for a reasonable price. Their neighbor, because of them being LGBTQ+, was harassing them. I was able to help them get a PPO, which made them feel more safe.
CC: I think the most difficult thing, the most challenging is reaching out to clients and getting them to speak up, getting them to not be afraid and to know that help is on the way. And understanding that there’s resources here. MiGen is a hidden gem. I think SAGE had a good reputation, but MiGen is taking it to the next level.So why MiGen? Why did you want to work for this agency, specifically?
LC: The reason is because I see they are really speaking for the consumers. The LGBTQ+ community has been looked upon for years in a different light. They haven’t got the respect that they needed, or they may have been bullied or discriminated against. So to be a voice for them is a pleasure.
CC: I’m working at MiGen because I see it as an opportunity to serve an underserved demographic. There’s a history with our elders and the path that they blazed and the pain that they had and still endure to this day. When I saw the opportunity to aid those in need, I jumped on it right away. You wouldn’t have your outspoken advocates and young people today who are free to love if it wasn’t for those who were part of the foundation. They deserve their due on every level.And outside of work? Who is Latia? Who is Carl?
LC: Latia is a wife, mother of six kids. She is really passionate about her family. That’s the main reason I do what I do. I love family time. I love to travel. I’m a learner. I love to learn new things on a daily basis. I love to read. And I have my bucket list of things I want to do on this Earth before my time is up.
CC: Carl is a liver of life. I am a recovering workaholic. I think it’s in my blood, from my parents to my relatives to my extended family members … We’ve always been fighters. As for hobbies, I’d say self-care, self-love, meditation, yoga, cross training, healthy eating and gourmet cooking.